Already? Yes, we just completed the eighth week of school. Wow!
Stressed, I am, just a bit, due to our not being in the lesson plan book where we were at this point last year. After some reflection, though, I concluded the following:
- I am going slower than last year for two reasons: I probably push my students too hard, and in my attempt to create a blended curriculum, I am listening to the students and hearing that they are not as appreciative of these attempts. For instance, in one day’s lesson, we may cover appositives, a writer’s use of metaphors, and the students’ answer to our essential question (in a 90-minute block). As I sit and ponder, I am just about convinced that these students’ responses are my fault…oooppsss!…due to my not properly setting the lesson by covering the day’s objectives. Seems almost too simple. I know what I want to cover…and I go for it, not pausing to begin with the end in mind.
- I added a project when I wrote and received a grant allowing my students to write and publish the 130-year history of our high school. After initiating the project, I spent a week taking each class to the local museum. Very pleased with the students’ comments, from the appreciation of the history there to the pleased results of acquiring evidence they will use in their narratives of their assigned year. Fun…just more time out of class.
- Our pre-assessment took four days. Too long. Especially when we miss for other extracurricular activities: pep rally, graduation meetings with Jostens, senior group photo. All needed and essential to making memories, but activities that sure cut into the curriculum. Back to that pre-assessment, while I supported the design and intent, it was time that spent on a skill that none of our students had ever addressed. Yes, this data we could have gathered in a shorter span of time. On the plus side? We utilized technology, learned much, and mastered it (for the most part!).
At least three weeks behind. Or not. We just are where we are. As I looked at the anchor charts hanging around the room, I concluded they pictorially represent our eight weeks together, summing up the skills covered thus far.
The Ninth Week
Take up that essay! Grade those essays, witnessing what I am sure will be growth in these senior writers, as I forced them out of their comfort zones, requiring them to use “chunk” writing, receiving the longest paragraphs these writers have ever created, ones containing signal phrases, evidence, and commentary, with stronger introductions and conclusions.
Will they be good?
- A few will be.
- Many will need so much work.
- Several will simply be works in progress.
- All will be more than they have ever written before.
Last Year and Next Year
Already this year, several of my former students have returned, proud of themselves for their success in their college comp classes. That is why we teach as we do, isn’t it? That is why I will push these to write more evidence-based papers than they want, but that’s okay, isn’t it?
That is why we teach as we do…for life after graduation day.